ページの画像
PDF

The floor was matted, and this matting was not less useful than beautiful. Its texture was so close that it was impenetrable to insects. One of Mulkaamair's wives, for he had, generally, from four to eight, usually slept with him in this apartment, in a space separated from the rest by an enclosure of matting. The rest were lodged with the children, in small, contiguous dwellings. About seven they usually retired to their matting; but instead of going immediately to sleep, such conversation then took place till ten or eleven, between the chief and his numerous household, that George considered this time as the most social of the whole day. He listened to them for hours, and was often, he says, improved as well as surprised by the shrewdness of their remarks, and the good sense of their reasonings. At break of day they rose, and proceeded to the ceremonies of breakfast, which is a very serious business in Tongataboo. The whole company seat themselves crosslegged in a circle, the chief in the place of howour, and his tackhangers, or ministers, on each side of him, to superintend the preparation of the kava. They give the word of command (for the movements of a regiment at parade are not conducted with more regularity) and the person who is to mix it, splits the root into small pieces, with a flat piece of wood or of whalebone, which they procure from the fish that are sometimes cast upon their coast. The pieces are then handed to the young people who have clean teeth, fit for chewing it. Even in this beastly mode of cookery, which is almost universal among Savages, there is every where some fashion of delicacy. The northern Indians, of whom Hèarne has given so excellent an account, are especially nice about the state of the masticators’ teeth; here the young alone are permitted to dBerate; among some of the Pa

raguay tribes it is the exclusiveoffice of old women, they being considered as purified from all uncleanness by age. Each person has a leaf by him, on which he spits his portion. A large bowl is then handed round into which the whole is emptièd. It is then placed opposite the chief, two young men being seated on each side to drive away the flies with fans of plantain leaves. The superintendant informs the tackhangers that all the kava is chewed, and they give orders to mix it. Cocoanut shells filled with water are brought, which one of the flyflappers pours in, while the other continues to keep off the insects, till the tackhanger bids him stop. The pulp is then squeezed by handfuls, that these orderers of the feast may judge the strength of the liquor as it falls into the dish. It is then passed three or four times through a strainer made of the inner bark of a tree, and notice is given that the kava is clean. The company, meantime, are employed in manufacturing their own dishes, which are made of plantain leaves, so skilfully platted as to hold water. The serving men rise from the circle and carry their dishes to the great bowl, and as the superintendant fills it, he calls out, whose is this kava? The person whose name is pronounced, claps his hands, and the cup bearer presents it to him with the greatest decorum. If it be to any of Duatonga's family, who are considered sacred,

he must sit down crosslegged before

he delivers it. Hebe herself could not officiate with more grace, or dexterity. Baked yams are now brought in leaf baskets, from an outhouse, built for the purpose; they eat them after the drinking is finished, and the whole meal, with all its preparations, lasts, sometimes, from break of day till noon. The kava is certainly an intoxicating liquor; yet according to this account, no time is

allowed for fermentation. It should

seem, therefore, to owe its powers of exhilirating to some deleterious property. After this breakfast, which may vie with Homer's dinners in length, they lie down and sleep for two or three hours. The business of the higher ranks is then how to be idle through the day. They wrestle and they box. Cooke's sailors tried their skill with some of these islanders “for love,” and, in every instance, the savage was the conqueror. It would be a worthy mission for one of “the fancy” to make a voyage to Tongataboo, for the purpose of examining the state of the science among them, and bringing back a professor to be matched against the champion of England. Bathing is a favourite resource. They go out at high water, when the sea rolls with great force upon their flat shore, swim some way out, then ride in upon the swell. A bystander, ignorant of their skill and power in this element, would think they must be dashed lifeless upon the beach. One hand is stretched out like a prow; the other steers them behind. Suddenly they turn on one side, dart back through the next wave, swim out, and again float in, till satisfied with the sport, they shoot through the returning billow, and land with perfect ease. They have a water game played by two parties. Two posts are fixed about a hundred yards distant from each other, in a depth of about four feet. A large stone is placed between them, and the struggle is, which party can first drag the stone to their own post. Another sport, peculiar to these islanders, is the royal diversion of rat catching, in which the chiefs are particularly skilful. The kernel of the cocoanut toasted and chewed, is first strowed as a bait; the sportsmen take their stand with bows and arrows, and squeak so naturally, that the rats come out at the call. The chiefs, like pigeon shooters in England, let fly alternately, and he who

kills the most, in the same number of shots, wins the game. George could never partake in the water games; but he soon became an excellent shot at the rats. When the day is wholly devoted to idleness, which, in their intervals of peace, is not uncommon, the chief sends round the district and collects forty or fifty youths of both sexes, to dance with his attendants. Their dances are performed by the light of torches, formed of the old bark of the cocoa tree. The costume of the women is after the fashion of our stage dancers; their necks and shoulders are encircled with wreaths of flowers, and other flowers, peculiarly white and fragrant, are interwoven with their dark hair. They dance in companies of eighty or a hundred, performing their complicated evolutions with a promptness and regularity not to be exceeded. It would have been curious if the quondam missionary had explained some of the names of their dances, that we might have seen whether they vied in elegance with My Garter's Loose, Moll in the Wad, The Devil among the Tailors, and other such amiable titles, which are called for in the first circles of fashionable life. They keep up the dance till midnight, sometimes till morning, one set relieving another. It is their ceremony of joy, and they conclude with it, their ceremonies of mourning. As the women grow eager with the sport, they throw off the scanty coverings in which they began the performance. The decency of the narrator prevents him from bringing any farther charge against them; but it is sufficiently known to what excesses of licentiousness these amusements are the forerunners and incentives. Soon after his marriage, George purchased the abbee, or estate, of Omataanee, containing about fifteen acres, for a spade, an axe, a small canoe, and a couple of knives. There were several habitations upon it; the tenants of which, in consequence of the ill treatment which some of their countrymen had experienced from the Botany Bay men, were afraid to remain under a European chief, till his promises and persuasions won them to continue. Society is not advanced in Tongataboo to that stage of barbarism where the labourers are slaves of the soil. Their situation, however, is far from that of freemen; for though the labour which they bestow upon the estate on which they dwell and cultivate for their own subsistence, and that of their lord, is an unobjectionable mode of paying rent, the inferiour chiefs, under whom they hold, send them twice or thrice a week to work for the dugonagaboola; and this fadong yeer, as it is called, is felt as a great burthen. George obtained an exemption from it for his property, and, in consequence, many requested to become his tenants. He went on purchasing land till at last his abbee comprised fifty acres, which were soon in the highest state of cultivation. He made a plantation round it of bread fruit, plantains, and cocoas; a gravel walk from his house to the high road, about two hundred yards in length, and planted on both sides with sugar canes. It is a proof not less of European talents, than of the easiness of their agriculture, that his whole farm was soon like a garden; and that in the hungry season, as it is called, he had enough for his own household, made liberal presents to his neighbours, and yet fruits were left to drop from the trees. He even improved upon the natives in their own arts. Their mode of planting the sugar cane is to cut it in two or three pieces, and plant them upright; the top decays, and it shoots out stems only at the iower knots; he laid them lengthways in furrows, and obtained suckers from every joint.—A principle of honesty hardly to have been expected in the natives, was found among them; for though they stole

European articles unblushingly, they. would not plunder a plantation. George's farm was robbed but once, and that by a man of the lowest order. Some of the natives apprehended him, and convicted him with great dexterity, by fitting the fruit to the branches from which it had been broken. They would have put him to death if George would have permitted it; and they would not be satisfied till they had tied him up and flogged him. His household sometimes consisted of not less than thirty persons. He kept open house, or rather open table, after the manner of the island, like a Bedoween chief. Any stranger who passed by when he was sitting at his door, or at the entrance of his abbee, would sit down beside him without invitation, and partake his

meal. In the scarce season, numbers

resorted to him for yams and fruits, and the custom was, never to refuse while they lasted. The advantages of a decent conduct, even among savages, were strikingly manifested by the different fate of this renegade missionary, and of the two convicts, Ambler and Morgan. These fellows, to obtain the respect of the natives, gave out that one was a duke and the other a prince; but that the missionaries were men of the lowest class, and servants to them in their own country. This stupid falsehood was soon discovered; the natives readily remarked, that if they had been the men of consequence which they pretended to be, property would have been left with them, as it was with the brethren. Their insolence and brutality soon made them odious. Ambler was killed for his insolence to one of the chiefs, and his endeavours to excite disturbances. Morgan was put to death for brutally viplating a chief’s daughter in one of the Vavou islands. George, meantime, conducting . peaceably and industriously, became a chief of some consequence himself. He accommodated himself, indeed, to the vices of the natives as well as to their manners, and never seems to have been troubled with any inconvenient principle of morality; but according to the standard of morals at Tongataboo, he was a moral man. He took as many wives as he pleased, without offending any person; and while sitting under the shade of his own cocoas and bread trees, receiving presents from Malkaamair, the second person in the island, and sending others to him in return, though with little compunction of the tabernacle, he had no occasion to regret the days when he carried the hod and the trowel. This state of prosperity continued between two and three years, when a conspiracy broke out, which destroyed his establishment, and laid waste one of the most fertile, and best regulated islands of Polynesia. A chief called Loogolala, was the author of this conspiracy, of which the object was to murder Dugonagaboola, and make George’s friend, Mulkaamair, supreme chief in his stead. The time chosen for putting the project in execution was the performance of a religious ceremony, which has escaped the notice of the other missionaries. There was a chief in the island called Duatonga, the head of a family who were thought, , originally, to have come from the sky. He was acknowledged by all the neighbouring islands as their mediator, to converse with the gods, and procure them plenty, and Tongataboo derived its name from his residence there, signifying the sacred isle. Dugonagaboola himself did not receive so much homage as this religious chief. His own estate was ample, but contributions were brought him from all the other districts sufficient to support him in splendour; and whenever he appeared, all persons, of whatever age or sex, instantly uncovered to the waist, sate down, crossed their arms and legs, and remained in that posture of reverence till he had passed by.

His father had been the Dugonagaboola, so that the monarchy and priesthood seem to have been united in the same person; but dying when

Duatonga was too young to succeed

him, the sovereignty was wrested from his widow, and no attempt was made to recover it when the son grew up. His own patrimony and his spiritual authority contented him. From this personage, it might have been thought the missionaries would be in most danger; he appears, however, never to have moiested them. A trifling circumstance taught him to despise them soon after their arrival, and this, perhaps, preserved them from any more dangerous feeling. The Duff had taken out an assortment of cuckoo clocks, which soon became objects of universal wonder. The general opinion was that a spirit spoke in them, and would detect them if they stole any thing from the ship or the missionaries. Toogahowe stood in such awe of it, that he would not have one in his house. His father, Moomooe, regarded it differently, and when he found himself dangerously ill, requested that some of the brethren would come and sing psalms for him, and bring a cuckoo clock, to assist in healing him. The high priest, however, knowing, perhaps, the mysteries of his own profession, was exceedingly delighted with these clocks, desired to have one, and as soon as he got it home, took it to pieces to examine the inside. To put it together again was beyond his skill, and unluckily it was beyond the skill of the missionaries too. None of them had been instructed in this branch of mechanism, and the discovery of their ignorance excited the contempt of the natives. The chiefs of Tongataboo, and of all the neighbouring islands, assembled once a year in the dwelling of Duatonga, to offer the first fruits of their fields to him, as the minister and representative of the god who caused fertility. Arrayed in various dresses, which denoted the districts over which they preside, they approached him with a slow, solemn pace, and uttering a monotonous song, presented to him the first fruits on their knees; then past off in the same order, and with the same solemnity. The ceremony was generally followed by a dance, and often concluded with a rude imitation of war, in which they fought with branches of the cocoa tree—a Polynesian tournament. The Dugonagaboola, as well as the inferiour chiefs, attended upon this occasion, and this was the time chosen by Loogolala, for the execution of his conspiracy. He communicated the design to a number of daring men, sufficient to fill two large canoes. They appeared at the ceremony, and after its conclusion, embarked as if to return to their own part of the island; but they waited off the coast till it was evening, then relanded, stationed a watch at every road leading to Dugonagaboola's residence, and proceeded in search of him. They found all his attendants asleep; but as it was dark, they could not see which was the chief, and were afraid to strike any one, iest they should kill the wrong person, and thus give the alarm. Unhappily for him, it is the peculiar privilege of the sovereign to anoint his head with oil, strongly scented with a fragrant wood, which is brought from the Feejee Islands. By this he was discovered, and they murdered him. Having made sure of their object, they began to massacre his attendants; some of them, however, effected their escape, and the conspirators reembarked. The friends of the slain chief took up the body of Loogolala’s father, and exposed it upon a tree, as the greatest indignity that could be offered to his family, and then flocked to Mulkaamair, that he might lead them on to vengeance. To their great astonishment he joined Loogolala, till they formed a formidable

party, and the fate of the island was to be decided by war. Mulkaamair commanded his own forces, and George followed him to battle. He might have staid behind, but he was attached to his benefactor; and, moreover, had some curiosity to see their mode of fighting, which he expected would be but child’s play. The preparations were, however, something formidable; conch shells were sounded for the alarm, and multitudes flocked to the summons. They had blackened their faces, and discoloured their bodies, that they might appear terrible; and their hair was cut close, except a bunch which was tied close on the crown of the head, like a crest, perhaps for the double purpose of securing it from the grasp of an enemy, and forming some defence. George was impatient for the battle, and pressed forward; his party was superiour in numbers; they made sure of victory, and in their confidence, neglected the best means ef securing it. They took up their quarters carelessly for the night, and George, who was with the advanced division, lay down to sleep among them. The measures of the enemy were more wisely taken. Just before daybreak they stole in upon the camp, hoping to surprise Mulkaamair, and terminate the war by putting to death the man for whose aggrandisement it had been so wantonly provoked. For this purpose they crept in a single file, each man laying hold of the girdle of the one before him, and treading silently in his steps. A considerable number had, in this manner, past the advanced guard before they were discovered. The alarm was given, George started up, and saw a large, straggling body coming to attack them. He ran forward as if to see a spectacle; one who knew him, pulled him back, telling him he did not know his danger, to which, in fact, he seems to have been insensible, not from courage, but from an unaccountable thoughtlessness, altoge

« 前へ次へ »